Notable TV and Digital Trends Early Summer 2018

The television landscape is changing dramatically. New and major players have disrupted traditional models, as networks and studios explore different approaches and partnerships. Beginning with an overview of the biggest “new” player, the following links provide some noteworthy examples of how the streamers continue to expand, and what everyone else is doing to adapt to the 21st century television ecosystem.

Inside the Binge Factory

According to Vulture, Netflix now makes more television than any network in history, and with a plan to spend $8 billion on content this year, it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Driven by a desire to scale and grow, Netflix is leveraging its impressive stable of talent and reams of user data to expand into new genres and countries. But considering Netflix’s recent earnings report, which revealed slower membership growth than forecasted, will it continue the pace of this expansion? Vulture’s profile of the streaming giant takes a deep look at the who, how, and why of Netflix’s ongoing success, providing a great framework through which to analyze the future of the company.

Netflix Continues Expansion into Anime

Netflix is firmly planting its roots in the anime/animation world. On July 5th alone, it ordered a pair of new anime series, renewed one other and set the premiere dates for four more.  Look for more such moves into “niche” categories, as Netflix capitalizes on its position as a single distribution channel for previously fragmented genres, as well as Netflix’s competitors seeking to also reinforce their animation catalogues as the new Disney SVOD platform looms on the horizon. Of course, one of the additional benefits of SVOD platforms commissioning new “original” anime properties that they own is that they can also own and control merchandising and video gaming rights, which can be valuable – particularly for shows that generate a cult following.

Netflix Picks Up Fox Musical Drama Pilot to Series

Netflix recently picked up the Fox pilot “Mixtape,” giving a 10-episode order to the musical drama after Fox passed on the pilot. Per Deadline, this is the third broadcast pilot picked up by the streaming service, and with Netflix in talks to pick up ABC’s canceled Designated Survivor, keep your eye out for more canceled/passed over network shows ending up on Netflix. Deals to revive shows passed over by other licensees can sometimes be complex, but in this instance, Netflix is betting that the viewership will justify the deal making.

20th Century Fox TV & Fox 21 TV Studios Will Both Develop for All Platforms in Strategy Shift

Based on an idea by Fox TV heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman, executives at the broadcast-focused 20th Century Fox TV and the cable/streaming-focused Fox 21 Studios will now work collaboratively to help develop series across platforms (e.g., “Mixtape” above, which was originally set for Fox, but ultimately landed at Netflix). As the marketplace for scripted originals grows amongst a wider range of TV buyers, look for studios to expand their focus across all platforms.

Telemundo Sees Success in World Cup Streaming

Despite ratings dropping significantly from the 2014 World Cup, Telemundo Deportes is finding success in the streaming services offered alongside its traditional linear World Cup broadcast. With over 1 million concurrent streams, Telemundo’s online coverage of Mexico’s loss to Sweden was the biggest streaming event in NBC Sports history besides the Super Bowl. With Twitter and Amazon having already entered the digital streaming sports world, and rumors that YouTube may be next, it’s not surprising that networks and cable channels are reinforcing their online sports offerings.

HBO Picks Up Fred Armisen Spanish-Language Comedy

Perhaps in part because of the surprise success of Netflix’s “Dark” and “La Casa de Papel (Money Heist)”, we’ve seen a great deal of expansion into non-English original programming recently. HBO has given a series order to the Spanish-language, Fred Armisen comedy “Los Espookys” which is produced in association with Más Mejor, the Latino-focused comedy studio launched by Broadway Video with NBCUniversal Telemundo.

How Wattpad Is Rewriting the Rules of Hollywood Development

Studios are not only rethinking their approach to distribution, they’re also adopting new strategies from the beginning stages of development. Wattpad, a website/app that provides a platform for readers and writers to publish and edit user-generated stories, has recently entered into partnerships with NBCU’s Universal Cable Productions and eOne, and both Netflix and Hulu are in various stages of adapting Wattpad content into film/television projects. The platform’s biggest asset is its data, which comes in the form of countless reader comments and critiques. Such feedback can help hone plotlines, improve characters, and generally predict an audience’s reaction to a story and its component parts. Wattpad’s co-founder and CEO Allen Lau has been open with his skepticism of the traditional Hollywood development process, so look for other companies to also take the tech “disruptor” approach to traditional Hollywood practices.